Justin Longoz and Betsy Burt. Photo by Katie Weldon.
Ever notice that a map of Vancouver looks like a thumbs up? Local artist Justin Longoz has, and he’s turned the city into a fantastic T-shirt project called ‘Cool City, Bro’ that both celebrates civic pride and makes an impact in the Downtown Eastside. All proceeds from the sale of the T-shirt will benefit Megaphone’s vendor program. Now that’s something to give a big thumbs up to.
Vancouver is at its best when it’s proud of its neighbourhoods. Vancouverites have an amazing sense of ownership over their communities that we don’t always see in other cities. It’s why people are concerned about local politics, volunteer with non-profits and make an effort to get to know their neighbours. Vancouver can often seem like an overgrown small town, which is part of its charm.
But community pride only works when we realize that each of our ’hoods need to make up the whole. One way we see this manifested is in the compassion so many Vancouverites have for the Downtown Eastside. We all want to try and find our own way to help support a community that needs it the most.
Cool City, Bro takes that Vancouver ethos of community and compassion and allows us to show it off at the same time. Funded by the Vancouver Foundation’s Downtown Eastside Small Arts Grant, all proceeds from sales of the shirt will go directly towards Megaphone’s vendor program, which helps the homeless and low-income vendors who sell this magazine earn an income.
“My vision for this project was to represent Vancouver in a fun way, engage with the public and amplify it into a larger fundraising initiative entirely benefitting my Downtown Eastside community,” says Longoz, who has also designed a number of Megaphone event posters. “Megaphone is an organization that does such important work that I wanted to find another way to show my support.”
Cool City, Bro really does emphasize what Megaphone tries to achieve. While many of Megaphone’s vendors may live in the Downtown Eastside, they sell the magazine in every neighbourhood of the city—from Kerrisdale to Cambie Village to Commercial Drive. Megaphone succeeds because every community takes a sense of ownership over the magazine.
Both Megaphone and Cool City, Bro are great ways for people from different communities to connect with each other and its just two of the many things that make this city so cool.
You can purchase a Cool City, Bro T-shirt (only $20) at CoolCityBro.com or by visiting one of these great retail shops who have offered to carry the shirts on a goodwill basis (meaning they're not taking a cut):
Board of Trade (227 Union St.)
Mintage Vintage (1714 Commercial Dr.)
Community Thrift and Vintage (41 W. Codorva St.)
Nouvelle Nouvelle (209 Abbott St.)
Tiny Finery (2162 E. Hastings St.)
Zulu Records (1972 W. 4th Ave.)
The Goods Screening & Apparel (335 E. Broadway)
Shop Wrong (1192 E. Hastings St.)
You can also drop in at the Cool City, Bro booth at the Chinatown Night Market every other Saturday (July 6 & 20, and August 3, 17, & 31).